United States District Court, W.D. Michigan, Southern Division
L. Maloney, United States District Judge.
a civil rights action originally brought by eight state
prisoners under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. Three Plaintiffs
(Cromer, Perry, and Jackson) since have been dismissed from
the case for failure to comply with the Court's orders
regarding payment of their shares of the civil action filing
fee. Plaintiffs Smith, Turner, Flakes, Sardin, and Madlock
have now filed an amended complaint (ECF Nos. 20, 22). Under
the Prison Litigation Reform Act, Pub. L. No. 104-134, 110
Stat. 1321 (1996) (PLRA), the Court is required to dismiss
any prisoner action brought under federal law if the
complaint is frivolous, malicious, fails to state a claim
upon which relief can be granted, or seeks monetary relief
from a defendant immune from such relief. 28 U.S.C.
§§ 1915(e)(2), 1915A; 42 U.S.C. § 1997e(c).
The Court must read Plaintiff's pro se complaint
indulgently, see Haines v. Kerner, 404 U.S. 519, 520
(1972), and accept Plaintiff's allegations as true,
unless they are clearly irrational or wholly incredible.
Denton v. Hernandez, 504 U.S. 25, 33 (1992).
Applying these standards, the Court will dismiss
Plaintiffs' amended complaint for failure to state a
claim against Defendant Bertram. The Court will serve the
complaint against Defendants Washington and Farber.
are presently incarcerated with the Michigan Department of
Corrections (MDOC) at the Earnest C. Brooks Correctional
Facility, (LRF) in Muskegon Heights, Muskegon County,
Michigan. Plaintiffs sue MDOC Director Heidi Washington,
LRF Correctional Officers (unknown) Bertram and (unknown)
allege that Defendant Washington is responsible for
maintaining and enforcing a policy concerning the religious
headwear worn by members of the Nations of Gods and Earths
(NGE) that both intentionally discriminates against members
of NGE relative to other religions and violates their rights
under the First and Fourth Amendments and the Religious Land
Use and Institutionalized Persons Act, 42 U.S.C. § 42
U.S.C. § 2000cc-1(a). They argue that their Universal
Crowns are nearly identical to and no more dangerous than
yarmulkes, yet NGE members are only allowed to wear their
Universal Crowns while in their cells, while Jewish prisoners
are permitted to wear their yarmulkes at all times. In
addition, Plaintiffs complain that they are not allowed to
possess the NGE newspaper, The Five-Percent, or to
attend group religious services. Plaintiffs contend that the
regulations to which they are subject are discriminatory and
place a substantial burden on the exercise of their religious
specifically allege that, on March 24, 2017, Defendant Farber
confiscated Plaintiff Flakes' universal crown while
Plaintiffs were on yard duty, though Farber later returned
seek injunctive relief.
Failure to state a claim
complaint may be dismissed for failure to state a claim if it
fails “‘to give the defendant fair notice of what
the . . . claim is and the grounds upon which it
rests.'” Bell Atl. Corp. v. Twombly, 550
U.S. 544, 555 (2007) (quoting Conley v. Gibson, 355
U.S. 41, 47 (1957)). While a complaint need not contain
detailed factual allegations, a plaintiff's allegations
must include more than labels and conclusions.
Twombly, 550 U.S. at 555; Ashcroft v.
Iqbal, 556 U.S. 662, 678 (2009) (“Threadbare
recitals of the elements of a cause of action, supported by
mere conclusory statements, do not suffice.”). The
court must determine whether the complaint contains
“enough facts to state a claim to relief that is
plausible on its face.” Twombly, 550 U.S. at
570. “A claim has facial plausibility when the
plaintiff pleads factual content that allows the court to
draw the reasonable inference that the defendant is liable
for the misconduct alleged.” Iqbal, 556 U.S.
at 679. Although the plausibility standard is not equivalent
to a “‘probability requirement, ' . . . it
asks for more than a sheer possibility that a defendant has
acted unlawfully.” Iqbal, 556 U.S. at 678
(quoting Twombly, 550 U.S. at 556). “[W]here
the well-pleaded facts do not permit the court to infer more
than the mere possibility of misconduct, the complaint has
alleged - but it has not ‘show[n]' - that the
pleader is entitled to relief.” Iqbal, 556
U.S. at 679 (quoting Fed.R.Civ.P. 8(a)(2)); see also Hill
v. Lappin, 630 F.3d 468, 470-71 (6th Cir. 2010) (holding
that the Twombly/Iqbal plausibility standard applies
to dismissals of prisoner cases on initial review under 28
U.S.C. §§ 1915A(b)(1) and 1915(e)(2)(B)(i)).
state a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, a plaintiff must
allege the violation of a right secured by the federal
Constitution or laws and must show that the deprivation was
committed by a person acting under color of state law.
West v. Atkins, 487 U.S. 42, 48 (1988); Street
v. Corr. Corp. of Am., 102 F.3d 810, 814 (6th Cir.
1996). Because § 1983 is a method for vindicating
federal rights, not a source of substantive rights itself,
the first step in an action under § 1983 is to identify
the specific constitutional right allegedly infringed.
Albright v. Oliver, 510 U.S. 266, 271 (1994).
It is a
basic pleading essential that a plaintiff attribute factual
allegations to particular defendants. See Twombly,
550 U.S. at 544 (holding that, in order to state a claim, a
plaintiff must make sufficient allegations to give a
defendant fair notice of the claim). Where a person is named
as a defendant without an allegation of specific conduct, the
complaint is subject to dismissal, even under the liberal
construction afforded to pro se complaints. See
Frazier v. Michigan, 41 F. App'x 762, 764 (6th Cir.
2002) (dismissing the plaintiff's claims where the
complaint did not allege with any degree of specificity which
of the named defendants were personally involved in or
responsible for each alleged violation of rights);
Griffin v. Montgomery, No. 00-3402, 2000 WL 1800569,
at *2 (6th Cir. Nov. 30, 2000) (requiring allegations of
personal involvement against each defendant)); Rodriguez
v. Jabe, No. 90-1010, 1990 WL 82722, at *1 (6th Cir.
June 19, 1990) (“Plaintiff's claims against those
individuals are without a basis in law as the complaint is
totally devoid of allegations as to them which would suggest
their involvement in the events leading to his
injuries.”); see also Wright v. Smith, 21 F.3d
496, 501 (2d Cir. 1994); Krych v. Hvass, 83 F.
App'x 854, 855 (8th Cir. 2003); Potter v. Clark,
497 F.2d 1206, 1207 (7th Cir. 1974); Williams v.
Hopkins, No. 06-14064, 2007 WL 2572406, at *4 (E.D.
Mich. Sept. 6, 2007); McCoy v. McBride, No.
3:96-cv-227RP, 1996 WL 697937, at *2 (N.D. Ind. Nov. 5,
1996); Eckford-El v. Toombs, 760 F.Supp. 1267,
1272-73 (W.D. Mich. 1991). Plaintiffs fail to even mention
Defendant Bertram in the body of their amended complaint.
Their allegations therefore fall far short of the minimal
pleading standards under Fed.R.Civ.P. 8 (requiring “a
short and plain statement of the claim showing that the
pleader is entitled to relief”). As a consequence, the
Court will dismiss Plaintiffs' claims against Defendant
review, the Court concludes that Plaintiffs have alleged
sufficient facts to warrant service of the complaint on the